2 Samuel 7:1-11,16
Once David had settled into his house and the Lord had given him rest from all the enemies surrounding him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, ‘Look, I am living in a house of cedar while the ark of God dwells in a tent.’ Nathan said to the king, ‘Go and do all that is in your mind, for the Lord is with you.’
But that very night the word of the Lord came to Nathan:
‘Go and tell my servant David, “Thus the Lord speaks: Are you the man to build me a house to dwell in? From the time I rescued the people of Israel from Egypt until now, I have never lived in a temple; I have travelled round living in a tent. In all my travelling with the people of Israel I never asked any of the leaders that I appointed why they had not built me a temple made of cedar.
I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be leader of my people Israel; I have been with you on all your expeditions; I have cut off all your enemies before you. I will give you fame as great as the fame of the greatest on earth. I will provide a place for my people Israel; I will plant them there and they shall dwell in that place and never be disturbed again; nor shall the wicked continue to oppress them as they did, in the days when I appointed judges over my people Israel; I will give them rest from all their enemies. The Lord will make you great; the Lord will make you a House.”’
For the birth of God in the soul there has to be the stripping of idols. In today’s reading we are reminded of the desire for humans to make temples, shrines and palaces for the gods within. Yet the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is a God who lives in a tent, travelling with the sheep and never settling. The fire goes before us.
Each year at Christmas there is the temptation to make shrines, temples, traditions – so much so that they blind us to what they have become – blocks in the face of God rather than invitations to the Unknown Birth. The miracle of Christmas is not about pension funds, annuities or securities, it is the God of no security who is present in each moment. A flame flares in the night – and will guide us ‘as sure as dawn’ to where we need to be.